BIA/Kelsey’s Discussion with New ReachLocal CEO Sharon Rowlands

ReachLocal today announced the appointment of longtime B2B and information services leader Sharon Rowlands as CEO, replacing interim CEO David Carlick, who remains chairman; and founding CEO Zorik Gordon, who left in December 2013 and is pursuing his vision for ClubLocal, a consumer-facing home service that has been spun off by ReachLocal. Groupon is among the lead funders of ClubLocal .

Rowlands, a 20+ year industry veteran is an English native currently based in New York. She is on the board of Constant Contact and previously served in many leadership capacities, including as CEO of Penton Media, the B2B publishing and events giant; and as President of Thomson Financial and The Financial Times.

In a conversation with BIA/Kelsey last week, Rowlands noted that she was drawn to ReachLocal’s efforts to provide SMB digital marketing services because the publicly-owned company has achieved “scale and a global footprint.” The SMB market has tremendous potential but “it is going through significant change,” said Rowlands. “SMBs must be overwhelmed with all the options facing them. I really think there is an opportunity to partner with SMBs and solve their problems in a more coherent way.”

One of the keys to Reach’s growth – and keeping its current base of 23,900 customers from churning — is to segment the market correctly, adds Rowland. “There is a lot of difference between someone signing up with one or two employees and someone with 30. The one-size-fits-all-approach is not the right approach,” she said.

The company is also seeking to develop more sticky tools for its customers, including ReachEdge, a comprehensive marketing solution that begins a $399 a month and now has over 1,000 SMB customers; and ReachSEO, a new search package. ReachEdge is also useful for attracting new customers – 65 percent of those signing up were not a prior customer of ReachLocal.

Saleswise, Reach has historically been focused on premise sales. But the company will now embrace “the whole breadth of go to market approaches, including telemarketing, partnership and ‘handholding,’” Rowlands said. “There is not one segmentation lens.”

The company is also moving beyond its emphasis on search solutions, which currently makes up 85 percent of revenue. While traditional search remain a strong anchor, discovery tools must make room for social media, which are increasingly important, Rowlands noted.

Sharon Rowlands, CEO, ReachLocal

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